About Author: Colleen Theisen

Website
http://www.twitter.com/libralthinking
Description
Outreach and Instruction Librarian. Lover of coffee, as well as 19th century photography, painting, tourism and print.

Posts by Colleen Theisen

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Frankenstein’s Cousin, The Vampyre – 1 of 3 from Peter Balestrieri

First of a series of three blog posts by Peter Balestrieri highlighting our collections relating to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

John Polidori by F.G. Gainsford

John Polidori by F.G. Gainsford

 “It was a dark and stormy night” in June, 1816 that brought together some of Romantic literature’s shining lights to read ghost stories in the Villa Diodati near Geneva, Switzerland.  Diodati had once hosted Milton and was now occupied by Lord Byron and his personal physician, John William Polidori. In attendance with them, were Percy Bysshe Shelley, his wife Mary, and her half-sister, Claire Clairmont. They shared a roaring fire and read to each other from a collection of chilling German folk tales. Byron suggested they each compose a ghost story and in the days and weeks that followed, they all began writing. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein came from this night of inspiration, as did small pieces by Byron and Percy Shelley. Claire Clairmont may have written a story but there is no record of it other than a mention in one of Mary’s letters. The only other story of real note to be produced came from John Polidori. His Vampyre was the first vampire story in English and preceded Bram Stoker’s Dracula by three quarters of a century. It laid the foundation for nearly every work of vampire fiction since, including those by Anne Rice (The Vampire Chronicles) and Stephenie Meyer (Twilight). But who was Polidori and how did he come to be in Switzerland that cold, dark summer of 1816?

John William Polidori was born on December 7, 1795 in London, the son of an Italian scholar and an English governess. His sister Francesca married Gabriele Rossetti and Polidori became uncle to their illustrious children, Dante Gabriele Rossetti and Christina Rossetti. Educated at the University of Edinburgh, Polidori graduated a doctor of medicine in 1815, only nineteen years old. He wrote his thesis on sleepwalking and had aspirations to literature and fame. In 1816, he heard that Byron was planning a trip to the Continent and arranged to accompany him as his personal physician. The relationship between Byron and Polidori was uneasy at times and there are accounts of Polidori being mocked by Byron and later, his guests. They gave him the nickname, “Poor Polidori,” and let him know that he was not held in high esteem. On his part, Polidori was sometimes contentious or arrogant, trying hard to stand on equal footing with his talented and famous companions. After the night of ghost stories, he began work on one of his own but bogged down. He took up the suggestion of a plot by Byron and produced The Vampyre, an innovation in vampire fiction that substituted a handsome, aristocratic vampire for the ugly, misshapen monster that populated earlier fiction and folktales, the Nosferatu. Polidori’s vampire, modeled on Byron, is a handsome, dapper aristocrat who is powerfully attractive to women, his primary victims. He moves easily in the highest society and gives no indication of his true identity. Critics believe that Polidori and Byron’s relationship had deteriorated badly and there is much in The Vampyre that can be read as the doctor’s resentment toward his employer. Shortly after the novella was finished, Byron dismissed Polidori from his service.

Polidori travelled through Italy, returned to England, and resumed medical practice. Under mysterious circumstances and without his permission, The Vampyre was published in April of 1819 by the New Monthly Magazine and attributed to Byron. Byron and Polidori both sought to clear up the question of authorship but the work continued for a time to be attributed to Byron, a fact appreciated by the publisher who was profiting by the false connection. Polidori went on to write a long poem, The Fall of the Angels, but never became the author he hoped to be. In 1821, after years of increasing depression and gambling debts, he took his own life with prussic acid. He was twenty-five years old.

Special Collections has a first edition of The Vampyre, published in London, 1819, by Sherwood, Neely, and Jones. It is one of several works likely inspired by that evening at Villa Diodati available for viewing in the Reading Room.

 

Reading List:

The Vampyre, John Polidori, 1819.  x-Collection 828 .P766v

A Fragment of a Ghost Story,” Percy Bysshe Shelley, from LinkRelics of Shelley. Ed. by Richard Garnett, 1862.  Leigh Hunt Collection 828 .S545Xg

“Journal at Geneva: Ghost Stories,” Percy Bysshe Shelley, from Essays, Letters from Abroad, Translations and Fragments,  Ed. by Mrs. Shelley, 1840. Leigh Hunt Collection 828 .S545X3

Fragment of a Novel,” in LinkMazeppa : A Poem, Lord Byron, 1819. x-Collection PR4372 .M3 1819.

 

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Unboxing the Hevelin Science Fiction Collection on Tumblr

The time has come! The James L. “Rusty” Hevelin Collection of Pulps, Fanzines, and Science Fiction Books is being unboxed and processed. 
 
Special Collections & University Archives is pleased to welcome long-time student worker and avid researcher Peter Balestrieri who is joining our staff as a Processing Librarian and taking on the task of making the collection ready for researchers. 
 
Rusty Hevelin was a science fiction fan, pulp collector, huckster (a dealer at conventions), and voracious reader.  In addition, he was one of the founders of Iowa’s two ongoing science fiction conventions, Icon in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area, and DemiCon in Des Moines.   
 
Friends and fans now have the opportunity to follow Peter as he explores and unboxes the collection, on our new Tumblr page where he will post photos and updates, box by box, as the mysteries within are revealed.
 
Please follow along and enjoy the snapshots into the history of science fiction and fantasy literature and fandom in the United States  http://hevelincollection.tumblr.com
 
For more on Rusty Hevelin and his collections please see our April 11th blog post.
 
 
 
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Who Am I?

Do you know this man? Or perhaps you know this lovely girl with her bicycle?

This mysterious item has a series of six photographs printed on fabric and bound together on a wooden holder. Based on clothing and hairstyle the photos seem to be from different time periods. Are they all different people?  Did one of those children grow into that lovely young lady?  Are they all family?  Why was this made?  When?

This came to us from a woman named Rose Hogan as part of an archive from families named Hogan and Roskopf but nothing is known about this item or the people featured. 

The family included teachers and attourneys and has connections to Iowa City, Galva Clearfield, Diagonal, Denison, Teril, Dunlap and Estherville in Iowa, as well as Chambers County in Texas, and Foxhome, Minnesota.

If these faces look familiar, please help us identify them and solve the mystery.

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Voices From the Stacks #2: Spine Lining

The second edition of our new series, “Voices from the Stacks” comes from English Department graduate student, Miriam Janechek, who is working as a guest curator for an exhibition that will debut this fall:

Filler pages from other books used to bind the spine of an 1856 edition of The Life of Benjamin Franklin demonstrate one of the many benefits of archival research – hands-on work leads to unique discoveries! A keyword search in Google books quickly identified one page, A Manual of the Orinthology of the United States and of Canada, by Thomas Nuttall, published in Cambridge, MA, in 1832, which is seen peeking out of the cracked binding of the University of Iowa Special Collections’ edition of Jefferson’s book. Demonstrating also the limitations of Internet research, Google did not help locate the other filler page, which seems to be from a periodical.

Why was the 24 year-old book on birds used as filler?  Did the printer have unsold copies?  Did he simply dislike birds?  Were there newer, more accurate ornithology books? It’s a mystery…

 

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150 Years Later a Civil War Story Unfolds

In celebration of the U.S. Civil War Sesquicentennial, The University of Iowa Libraries is bringing to life the compelling story of Civil War soldier Joseph F. Culver and his wife, Mary, featuring letters held in Special Collections in the J.F Culver Papers. Letter by letter their story will unfold over the next three years published on a new blog exactly 150 years to the exact date each letter was written.  The blog was launched today with the first letter written 8/14/1862. 

Joseph Franklin Culver (1834-1899) was engaged in banking, insurance, and the practice of law in Pontiac, Illinois, before the war.  An honorable and religious man he was inspired to leave his pregnant wife of less than a year behind to “walk in the path of duty” as a volunteer to serve with the Illinois 129th Infantry Regiment, Company A (August 1862-June 1865), first as a lieutenant and later as captain. Culver so desired to keep in contact with his new wife that he wrote detailed letters multiple times each week sharing his day, news items, and the stories of the men in his company, also men from Pontiac and Livingston County, IL, for the duration of the three years of his service.  

Extensive annotations added by scholar Edwin C. Bearss in the 1970s as J.F. Culver’s letters were turned into a book, Your Affectionate Husband, J.F. Culver, are included to make it possible to follow the dates, names, relationships, and references in the letters. Newly discovered letters and letters from his wife, Mary, will be included in the blog project to make the most complete version of their story to date.

Mary Culver Portrait

A review of the book from 1979 highly recommended Culver’s letters.  “This is a valuable series of letters by an observant and highly literate soldier. In addition, the collection has been edited in impeccably scholarly fashion. The book is thus a revealing as well as useful chronicle of Sherman’s campaigns…The chief value of Culver’s letters is the wide variety of subject matter. Comrades, marches, campaigns, rumors, prices, religion, and general commentaries abound. So do observations on all facets of army life–discipline, conscription, elections, camp life, baggage, shelters, pay, and rations. Added to this are personal opinions on a number of Union leaders.” James I. Robertson, Jr. The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 45, no.4 (Nov. 1979), pp. 612-613. 

Though primarily a story of an Illinois man, Iowa readers should note that Joseph and Mary Culver are great-grandparents to John Culver, former Iowa representative to the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senator from Iowa, and great-great-grandparents to Chet Culver, former governor of Iowa.

View the Joseph F. Culver Civil War Blog.

The book is available from Amazon.com.

 

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New Acquisitions: KRUI, Oakdale Scrapbook and Artists’ Books

Here are some featured items that have recently arrived in both Special Collections and in the University Archives. Researchers interested in the history of local radio, advertising, tuberculosis, and artist’s books should particularly take note of our recent arrivals.

The University Archives now includes additional documents from KRUI.  KRUI 89.7, the University of Iowa student radio station, began as a dormitory-only service in the early 1950’s, expanding to FM in 1984. Recently the UI Archives received an additional 14 linear feet of material from the station: Brochures, staff schedules, correspondence, photographs and other documents, to add to the archives existing collection described at http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/spec-coll/archives/guides/RG02.02.08.htm. Dave Long, a member of the KRUI board of directors, helped arrange for transfer of the materials.

Logo design sketches

Logo design sketches, KRUI, University of Iowa Archives

Oakdale Sanatorium was established in Johnson County in 1907 to house and care for patients diagnosed with tuberculosis. Over time, the facility accommodated patients with other needs as well. From 1945 to 1947, Ruth Harris, a dietician from Ames, IA, was employed as Director of Dietetics there. Earlier this year, Ruth Solmonson of St. Paul, MN, a relative of Ms. Harris’, donated a scrapbook to the UI Archives which contains scores of photographs, newspaper clippings, and other items depicting life at the facility. In 2011 Oakdale Hall, the original and largest structure on the campus, was razed to make way for new development, making Ms. Harris’ photographs even more valuable to researchers.

Oakdale Sanatorium Scrapbook, University Archives

Oakdale Sanatorium Scrapbook, University of Iowa Archives

The newest arrivals in the department of Special Collections include a shipment of eleven impressive artists’ books from Vamp & Tramp Booksellers, LLC.  Three of the books are highlighted below.

Body of Inquiry is from Casey Gardner and Set in Motion Press.   With inspiration drawn from anatomical models and instructional documents this amusing work draws you in to discover a “corporeal codex” with intricately folded organs.

Statement from Set in Motion Press:  “This book is a triptych opening to a sewn codex within the subject’s torso. It is a structure of display and intimacy. The scale is large and unfolding and the details are numerous and intricate, accurate and outlandish. The instruments on the outer panels are from the 19th- and 20th-century scientific catalogs. The rest of the images are drawings the artist made and transferred into photopolymer plate for letterpress. The scientific panels explore the miracle of our physicality and are sequenced beginning with atoms, moving to cells, and to genetic structure. The interior codex tells the story of the artist’s anatomical model and investigates the permeable borderline between material and immaterial in our bodies and life.”

 

Corpus codex

Detail from Body of Inquiry, U. of Iowa Special Collections

Al Mutanabbi Street, March 5,  from Al Hazelwood is one item that is part of a project to “re-assemble” some of the “inventory” of the reading material that was lost in the car bombing of al-Mutanabbi Street on 5th March 2007. Originally the intention was for 130 book artists to join in honouring al-Mutanabbi Street so that one artist’s work would stand in for each of the 30 killed and 100 wounded through creating work that holds both “memory and future,” exactly what was lost that day.  However in the end the response was so great that 262 artists participated in the project, soon to be completed.

Stement from artist Al Hazelwood: “This book is based on the car bombing of a street of booksellers in Baghdad. Beau Beausoleil, a bookseller in San Francisco, initiated this project to memorialize this attack on the culture of the book and prevent it from slipping into forgetting among the many atrocities of the Iraq War. He’s asked 130 book artists to contribute — the number of books matching the number of victims that day. This is my contribution. Three from the edition go to the project one of which will be offered to the Iraq National Library in Baghdad.  My book, starts with an image of the booksellers street. The next page begins a foldout which begins with the explosion in a death head cloud. Books flying are labeled with different bookseller areas of the world”.

Al Mutanabbi Street, March 5

Al Mutanabbi Street, March 5, U. of Iowa Special Collections

Shelter by Phil Zimmerman of Spaceheater Editions is an intricately constructed floating hinge format book-within-a-book.

Statement from artist Phil Zimmermann: “Shelter came out of an exploration of losing faith and questioning on of its opposites: the process of finding religion. This text came out of watching my dying father, who was never religious when I was growing up, become increasingly interested in faith and salvation as he became sicker from heart disease and cancer. I saw the desert with its unfriendly flora and harsh environment as a metaphor for the difficult world towards the end of many people’s lives. The desert is also used in many religious tracts as a place for contemplation and mortification. In this work roadside shelters and gospel ministries were used as signifiers of ways and places where people look (vainly?) to relive prospects of their approaching death.”

 

Shelter

Shelter, U of Iowa Special Collections

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Voices from the Stacks #1: Special Collections’ “Miseries”

Re-shelving, putting items in folders, boxing, labeling, sorting, shifting, dusting and vacuuming are just a snapshot of what happens behind the scenes everyday in any Special Collections or archives and that means our students and volunteers often have unique opportunities to identify unique items in the collections. From time to time in this space we will feature stories from our student workers or volunteers as they stumble upon items that simply have to be shared in a new series “Voices from the Stacks.”

Our first post comes from Sydney Smith, a senior English major who has been working with us for two years:

Many moons ago, I was a member of what I called the “Vacuuming Project Task Force.” Employees of Special Collections were asked to vacuum all the books in the department after a particularly dusty construction project.

It was not the project we were most fond of, but it did lend itself to exploring the stacks more, and when Karen, a fellow student employee, and I could no longer ignore the dusty books, we liked to play “Find the Book with the Weirdest Cover and (Carefully) Read Out of It.” It was during this game that Karen spotted our prize, a book we come back to for laughs on a regular basis; the crème de la crème of wacky and unexpected books (at least within the call number range from xPN2037.M4 through xPQ4627.L28C6.)

The Miseries of Human Life; or, The Groans of Samuel Sensitive and Timothy Testy. With a Few Supplementary Sighs from Mrs. Testy. In Twelve Dialogues contains all the ridiculous, painfully-detailed, horrible things that author James Beresford noticed in his day-to-day life.

Fold out illustration of a parlor with angry and sad people

Call number: PN6173.B4 1806

 These complaints include but are not limited to:

  1. “Pushing up your shirtsleeves for the purpose of washing your hands – but so ineffectually that, in the midst of the operation, they fall and bag down over your wet, soapy wrists.”
  2. “Straining your eyes over a book in the twilight, at the rate of about five minutes per line, before it occurs to you to obtain some light.”
  3.  “Being compelled by a deaf person, in a large and silent company, to repeat some very inane remark three or four times over, at the highest pitch of your voice.”
  4. “Living in chambers under a man who takes private lessons in dancing.”

And, a personal favorite:

  1. “Going, with ardent expectations, to a picnic, and finding that, from some sudden capriccio in the decrees of fashion, there is no nic to pick.

If I were able to compile my own list of miseries, it would probably sound a bit more like this:

  1. The wifi in my apartment isn’t working again, and I desperately need to check Facebook because I’m bored!
  2. My air conditioner isn’t cooling my home fast enough. I’ve had it on for five whole minutes!
  3. My printer is out of ink. I’ll have to walk all the way to the library to get this printed.

Life’s hard, isn’t it?

Call number: PN6173.B4 1995

There are two editions on hand here in Special Collections, one, an early edition with the original illustrations, published in 1806. The second is an edition abridged by Michelle Lovric and published in 1995.  The best part of the abridged edition, and the part that attracted Karen’s attention in the first place is that where it might have had a ribbon bookmark attached to the spine, it has a ball and chain. Thank you, Michelle Lovric!

If the little things are getting you down, please stop by Special Collections and take a look at either edition of Beresford’s Miseries, which is bound to create more laughs  than tears any day. In the meanwhile, add a “misery” from your daily life in the comments!

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Book Tasting Event Results

Last weekend at the Iowa City Book Festival, Special Collections & University Archives hosted a Book Tasting event in the Old Capitol.  As a closed stack library usually researchers and readers already have an item in mind when they come to see us.  “Search” will turn up very different results from “browse” as a strategy and so to make it possible to find an unknown favorite, we created a Book Tasting event.   Inspired by wine tasting parties, a “Book Tasting” features a selection of books that the “tasters” have not seen before to browse, add ratings, and perhaps find an unexpected favorite.  Then when the ratings are tallied, a crowd favorite will emerge.

The collection of books we put together for the event was inspired by the exhibition across the hall in the Old Capitol Museum, “Insects: A Collection in Multiple Dimensions.”  We selected 20 scientific books from the 18th and 19th centuries that have illustrations of collections of things.  These collections include everything from an entire four volumes dedicated to every species of antelope to books on butterflies, mollusks, quadrupeds, or flowers. Due to the nature of scientific study at the time these are books that are illustrated in great detail and in the 100+ years represented in the sample, book illustration itself changes dramatically.  The books also make it clear how these types of books were used in the 19th century as the University of Iowa got its start.  Many bear traces such as singed edges and library bindings that tell the story of their survivial from the 1897 North Hall fire while many others bear the stamps of their former owners, eventual donors to the collections such as Dr. Mark Ranney and D.H. Talbot

Though our end goal was to find a crowd favorite what emerged from the data collected was a picture of how diverse people’s interests are.  15 of the 20 books were listed as someone’s favorite.  Three books tied to be the crowd favorite, #9 Popular Greenhouse Botany, #17 The Birds of Great Britain, and #20 History of Quadrupeds

If you could not make it to the event please enjoy the gallery of images on Flickr that will give you a “taste” of what was there, including a cover, title page, and image from the book for each item that was featured. The crowd favorites will be featured this week in our “pop-up” exhibit case right inside the door.  Find your favorite, and as always, feel free to stop by anytime to enjoy these books in Special Collections. 

Click on the link  to view the whole gallery on Flickr.  http://www.flickr.com/photos/uispeccoll/sets/72157630657536852/

 

*See librarian Buffy Hamilton “The Unquiet Librarian” for more information on “Book Tasting” events in other contexts.

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Help Document Student Life in the University Archives

The University Archives has two announcements: A new acquisition and an ongoing project, both of which have an embedded call to help document student life here at the University of Iowa. 

Janet Pease, who earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees (including the Ph.D.) in history from The University of Iowa, donated to the University Archives her scrapbook documenting her first year on campus, a delightful compilation of photographs, keepsakes, and notations highlighting special events of that year. Entering the University in the fall 1962 semester, Ms. Pease distinguished herself as an outstanding student, earning recognition as a member of Phi Beta Kappa honor society. Her career in education spanned some 40 years, all of that time devoted to teaching history at the high school level in Arvada, Colorado.  The UI Archives is pleased to add this item to its growing inventory of student life-related collections, and encourages you to contact us if you or a family member may have UI-related items of interest for us to preserve and share with our researchers.

 By any measure, Stephen Smith was the all-American boy. The Marion, Iowa, native lettered in high school football, basketball, track and wrestling and was a class officer, honor student and Boys State participant. He entered the University of Iowa in the fall 1963 semester as an ROTC student with hopes of joining the Air Force. He was also moved to protest what he saw as wrongs of the time: Racial segregation and growing U.S. military involvement in Viet Nam. In July 1964, while in Canton, Mississippi, with other Freedom Riders to help blacks register to vote, Mr. Smith was detained by local authorities and brutally beaten while in custody. The following year he was arrested for burning his draft card at the Iowa Memorial Union, only the second person in the nation to do so under a then-new federal law criminalizing such action. He was sentenced to three years’ probation. Mr. Smith died in 2009, several years after suffering a nearly-fatal heart attack. His adult life was, at times, both challenging and rewarding. For 10 years, until his health failed, he was an instructor of computer science at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. The UI Archives is now attempting to learn more of Mr. Smith’s life and is in contact with friends and family members to develop a collection to help preserve his memory. If you were on campus at that time and recall the incidents, knew Stephen Smith, or know of somebody who did, please contact David McCartney, UI Archivist (david-mccartney@uiowa.edu). Thank you.

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Sample a Rare Vintage at our Book Tasting Event

Fern book cover and flower illustrationSample a selection of vintage illustrated books exploring the natural world pulled from the stacks of Special Collections & University Archives at our Book Tasting event at the Iowa City Book Festival. Browse 19th century  botany, gardening, children’s textbooks, animals, herbals and more! “Sample” a book, add some tags to help future browsers identify its “flavor” and finish it off with a rating. The highest rated item will be featured in our “popup” case inside Special Collections and through social media.  Stop by, browse, sample, and enjoy! 

3:00PM-4:00PM July 14th  the Old Capitol Museum Supreme Court.

Book festival schedule:  http://www.iowacitybookfestival.org//schedule/view/20120714/